Report: Bulls not looking to trade Luol Deng. Why would you think that?

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Luol Deng isn’t going anywhere fast — and we don’t just mean because he’s in a walking boot right now trying to rest his Achilles (he hopes to be back Christmas Day).

We mean on the trade market.

Ever since Derrick Rose went down injured it has been the conventional wisdom that the Bulls would use now to retool the roster — not rebuild from scratch Derrick, relax, just retool — and that meant seeing what they could get for Luol Deng on the trade market.

But that is not the case; Deng is not on the market reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

Despite being mired in a season that has been derailed by injuries, the Chicago Bulls are determined not to trade impending free-agent forward Luol Deng, sources told ESPN.com…

Despite failing to come to terms on a contract extension before the season, the Bulls remain optimistic they will re-sign Deng next summer.

Deng is in the final year of a contract paying him $14.3 million. The two-time All-Star has averaged a career high 19.6 points per game with a good True Shooting Percentage 54.2 percent. This has been the best season of his career. Plus coach Tom Thibodeau really loves him on the defensive ends.

Still, is it really the Bulls plan to bring him back at more than $10 million a season and keep playing him in front of Taj Gibson? Would the Bulls really be willing to match what some other teams will be willing to pay Deng this summer?

More likely, the Bulls don’t want to take back long-term salary in a deal and would be more willing to play out the season with Deng and let him go rather than eat up future cap space.

Because of the salary demands and the fact that expiring deals are not the great trade chip they once were, the Bulls may not be getting offers they find attractive in the wake of the Rose injury — I’m sure teams came in hoping for a fire sale and making lowball offers. Still, you have to think they will consider this more seriously close to the deadline. This is an All-Star player and the Bulls will expect compensation commiserate with that, but you have to think they will listen.

Unless the new plan is to really bring back Deng, keep Carlos Boozer another year and try again to make a run with this core group. Not sure that’s the wise play in Chicago, but it is an option.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.